4 to 16 characters by Kelly Hourihan, Interview with the author+Giveaway!

    Please welcome Kelly to ThisGirlReadsAlot. 
For those of you unfamiliar with her debut novel here's some info on the novel including the blurb:

4 to 16 Characters by Kelly Hourihan
Publisher: Lemon Sherbet Press
Published Date: November 7th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Fifteen-year-old Jane Shilling’s best friends don’t know her real name. In fact, they don’t know anything about her at all. Jane’s life has collapsed in the last few years; following the death of her mother, her father turned to drinking, and Jane is reeling from the double blow. To escape, Jane devises a number of online personas, each with a distinct personality, life history, and set of friends. But things become trickier when she finds herself drawing close to some of her online friends, and winds up struggling with the question of how to maintain a real friendship while masquerading as a fake person. With the help of Gary, a socially awkward classmate and competitive Skeeball player who is Jane’s only offline friend, and Nora, her therapist, Jane begins to sift through her issues. The only catch is that that involves taking a long, hard look at what her life’s like when the computer is shut off, and that’s a reality she’s been fighting for years.

How did you come up with the concept of 4 to 16 Characters?

Honestly, a lot of it is drawn from my own life.  I began it years ago, shortly after I'd come out of a major immersion in fandom and wasbeginning to contemplate the reasons behind that. For me, as for Jane,fandom was in large part a place where I could escape from a bad personal situation, and the Internet provided me a way to dodge mytypical social awkwardness and form solid friendships. As for theconcept of multiple online identities, I never took it to the lengths that Jane does, but I had a habit of coming up with new onlineusernames, some of which had vaguely defined life stories thatdiffered from mine, and using one until it felt too much likereal-life me, at which point I'd switch to another one. Jane isn't much like me personality-wise, but her emotional  journey has a lot in common with mine.-Jane is such a fangirl. 
Do you know any Janes, are you a Jane? 
Oh, as far as fangirling goes, I've known so many Janes!  I think it'simpossible to spend a lot of time in fandom without knowing a bunch ofpeople who are as into it as Jane is. Yes, there are definitely plentyof people in fandom who aren't totally possessed by it, but there arealso plenty of people who live more in the world of fandom and the Internet than they do in their physical lives.  And I think a lot ofpeople in the latter category are at least partially impelled by lousy crap happening to them in their physical lives.-

Tell me something you fangirl about?
Right now I'm not in a particularly fangirly place, because things have been good in my life for some time. I'm a big fan of The Hunger Games, but I'm not really in the fandom.

-Have you ever written any fanfics? If so where and what about?
I have written so many fanfics and so many of them have been so bad.My first experience in fandom was, bizarrely, for the TV show Frasier. I wrote hundreds of thousands of words of  crazy-angsty fanfics about that show, which, since it was a sitcom, was not something that made awhole lot of sense on any logical level.  The page that hosted all my Frasier fanfics disappeared from the Internet years ago, for which Iam extremely, extremely grateful. Eventually I drifted out of Frasier,and then a couple years later things went south for me again and Iwound up writing fics for Law and Order: SVU.  My fics for that were alittle better but I'm still glad that I posted them under a pseudonym. A little later I found myself in the Desperate Housewives fandom,cementing the fact that there is absolutely no rhyme or reason towhich fandoms I wind up in.  Anyway, these days I still write somefic, but it's mostly for fic exchanges or ficathons and is usuallywritten to other people's prompts.  All the "fic" I am currently willingto admit to having written is posted athttp://archiveofourown.org/users/slightlykylie/works.

Are the characters inspired by any real life persons?
Some of them, primarily Gary and Jane's dad, started out echoingpeople I knew in real life, but they quickly developed into their ownpeople.  The guy whom I originally associated with Gary, for example,was a real grind who was very serious most of the time and who woundup going to MIT.  He did ask me if my math teacher drank more coffeeor more tea though.-

Tell us something about 4 to 16 Characters that is not included in the story that you might want a reader to know?
I have a lot of headcanon that didn't turn out to fit in the book.One thing that readers often ask me is what ended up happening withthe Lookies.  So, spoiler alert: TealDeer wins the grand prize, butthe fandom doesn't come anywhere near to hitting the $15,000 goal, soshe doesn't get to go to the script reading.  Jane and Audra'scollaboration wins the drabble category.-Why did you choose to write a story like this as opposed to maybe aDystopia or a Mystery?I like dystopias and mysteries (particularly dystopias), and Iactually have some back-burner ideas for novels in both of thosecategories, but I think 4 to 16 Characters was just the story that Ihad to tell at the time in my life when I started it. Also, in termsof technical issues, I was interested in exploring a new form ofstorytelling; there have been novels written all in IMs and all inblog posts before, but I hadn't seen anybody trying to make use of abroad range of elements from the Internet, and I wanted to try it.

Have you always wanted to be a writer or was this something you justwanted to do?
It's been sort of sporadic.  I started my first novel when I was infifth grade, which I (naively) intended to submit to publishers, butthat never got finished, which was not much of a loss.  I started afew other novels over the years, only one of which was ever finished,but the one that did get finished was atrocious and I never followedthrough on trying to publish it – definitely a gift to the world ofliterature.  In between these forays I convinced myself that I didn'thave enough talent to make it as a writer, but then 4 to 16 Charactersbegan to take shape, and I decided to see it through.  That changed myself-perception and made me decide to keep writing. I have a few booksin the hopper now, one of which is in what I think will be its finalround of edits, so I'm hoping that you'll see more from me in thefuture.

Tell me something interesting about yourself.
I sleep-talk (so I'm told), and apparently I say really ridiculousthings. I just asked my wife what the weirdest thing I ever said wasand she said it was probably "There is no way of knowing what wouldhappen if you put a Transylvanian hop in your bed."  There was even aperiod of time when, thanks to a sleep medication I was on, Ideveloped a habit of sleep-tweeting.  All of my sleep-tweets werecompletely nonsensical, and they really amused a bunch of my followersand really annoyed a bunch of others.
Tell the readers why they should read your book?
4 to 16 Characters is meant to be a book that reaches out to anyonewho has gotten lost in the Internet from time to time, which I think means almost everyone under 35 years of age these days.  I thinkpeople who are familiar with the Internet will recognize andappreciate the all-Internet style of storytelling, but I think thestory and themes will resonate on a deeper level as well.

Twitter or Facebook?
My Twitter handle is @MostlyKelly.  My personal Facebook is private,but there's a fan page for the book athttps://www.facebook.com/pages/4-to-16-Characters/427769727330452/.  I enjoy both, but I'm not fabulous at the short-form writing that Twitter requires and I tend to get frustrated by the fact that nuanceis hard to convey there, so I guess I prefer Facebook.

Contact the author on: Twitter

Now for the giveaway, yay!